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June 25, 2012

Video on the Desktop & HTML5 – What to consider?

 

Confused about HTML5 video?  Well, you’re not alone.  Although HTML5 is a very promising platform and a common standard for mobile video experiences, it has not matured as a platform for desktop video.  Before investing in a HTML5-only video solution, consider these facts about HTML5 video on desktop:

1)      Inferior playback experience

  • There is NO video streaming standard across browsers for HTML5. Therefore the video will be delivered via progressive download which means longer load times, no ability to seek video, and local temporary copy of video stored on users’ desktop.
  • There is NO adaptive streaming.  With adaptive video streaming, the video player can detect a user’s network connection and serves the right video quality dynamically – lower quality for slow bandwidth and higher quality for faster connections.  Without this, every user will have a “one-size-fits-all” video playback experience.

2)      More videos to encode and manage

  • There is NO video format and codec that all browsers support. You will have to encode to at least 2 and up to 4 different video formats just to get video to playback (ie. MP4, OGG Theora, WebM).

3)      Limited player customization

  • Each HTML5 browser has its own default look & feel for video player controls.  It’s difficult to create a consistent viewer experience and the level of customization is greatly limited.

4)      Limited reach

  • Not all desktop browsers are HTML5-compatible. In fact, approximately 40% of worldwide users are still using IE 8 or below, which does not have support for HTML5 video tags.  This means you won’t be able to serve video to nearly half of your market if you relied on HTML5 video alone.

Adobe Scene7 can help you get around these limitations with the following best practice workflow:

  • Encode videos to MP4 H.264 – a single format that can be played on desktop and mobile screens (including iOS and Android). You can even use an out-of-box adaptive video encoding setting which simplifies encoding with a single checkbox selection.
  • Publish videos using the Scene7 smart universal video URL which dynamically plays back video based on device detection and network connection serving the optimal experience to each user. Click here to see it in action.

This easy workflow gives you a simplified asset management, automatic device detection,  superior streaming delivery, adaptive adjustment of video quality based on network connection, and the utmost customization flexibility for your video player.

 

 

 

 

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April 19, 2012

Make It Personal

Different individuals deserve different experiences. Not a novel idea, but digital marketers continue to face the challenge of how to execute this concept today.

With enhanced Adobe Digital Marketing Suite integrations, the latest release of Adobe Scene7 lends way to a sigh of relief, allowing businesses to easily scale and deliver more relevant and personalized experiences to consumers. As an integral part of Adobe’s Web Experience Management solution, digital marketers can add Scene7 marketing banners into page templates through a simple drag-and-drop configuration. Leveraging comprehensive visitor data from Adobe Test&Target and Adobe CQ, Scene7 will dynamically assemble the right content combination for the visitor on demand.

Additionally, marketers and merchandisers can deliver relevant banners within the site search experience. The new integrated workflow with Adobe Search&Promote streamlines dynamic content assembly based on promotional business rules.  You now have a quick and easy way to cus­tomize and deliver the most relevant marketing offers on search and navigation pages in real time.

Lastly, take advantage of the new HTML5 and Flash viewers, which expand your ability to provide unique, differentiated rich experiences across all channels. These include auto-play image slide shows; auto-spin capabilities; and embedded video content in interactive catalogs and brochures. And of course, we’ll give you that smart URL to deliver the right content, in the right viewing format for the screen or device.

This release also offers enhanced video streaming for desktop and Android, and enhanced internationalization support. Click here for complete details of the latest Adobe Scene7 release.

Embed video in your online catalog seamlessly with the latest Scene7 release

Embed video in your online catalog seamlessly with the latest Scene7 release

 

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January 26, 2011

Nine easy steps to online video success

As online videos continue to prove their ROI, we expect retailers to embrace this medium as never before. From showing the inner workings of a product to zeroing in on a dazzling product feature, there’s nothing like using video to bring merchandise to life for driving conversion.

Now, to help you get the most out of online video, we recently published a guide entitled Nine Easy Steps to Online Video Success. This paper contains best practices to help you realize rapid ROI, including how to streamline production and choosing the right products to spotlight.

The guide is written for merchants in any stage of video deployment. Whether you’re just getting started in video or have already deployed, we think you will find some useful tips here. Get your copy today and let us know what you think.

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September 01, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: 7 Tips to Spread Your Rich Media Cheer

This holiday season, be generous and spread your rich media everywhere...

As your customers shop in more channels across more devices, you need to be where they are—especially over the upcoming holiday shopping season. As you devise your game-plan for the holidays, here are some rich media tips to rev up your holiday planning.

1. Optimize your mobile site. The game-changer this holiday season is mobile. Shoppers will be using their cell phones to research, comparison-shop and browse as they navigate between the online and offline experiences. Thus, you need to engage your customers in mobile, so be sure your imagery is optimized for the small screen.

Rich, full-screen image zoom and videos are the most effective ways to browse or display products in mobile, according to a majority of the respondents in our mobile survey published in July.

2. Socialize your rich media. Social media is the other channel set to make waves this holiday season. Last year, comScore found 27% of US shoppers said social media has influenced their purchases, and this year that number should rise. Add depth and richness to your social media initiatives. We’ve seen merchants like Soft Surroundings post their online catalogue on Facebook to great effect; make your dynamic viewer sets embeddable in blogs to make your product pages go viral. Check out how Niche Modern did it.

3. Cover all the rich media bases on your PC commerce site. From full-screen imagery to zoom capabilities, dynamic rich media can deliver an all-around great online shopping experience. Offer great visualization tools from start to finish, beginning from the home page, to search-and-filtering and through checkout to support. Don’t forget to post your online catalog to help those in search of ideas. These shoppers love the product bundles or entire wardrobe ensembles to spark gift ideas. Beyond that, your site’s dynamic viewing capabilities should enhance and deepen the shoppers’ understanding of the product.

On category pages, layer on more interactive visual information, such as click-views, rollover alternative views and colorization. The key is to give shoppers as much product information as possible to give them the confidence to purchase. If they can examine the details of the bracelet, they will appreciate and understand the product craftsmanship and intricacies that much more. The more visual and textual information you can provide, the more you can also help set expectations, resulting in greater satisfaction and lower return rates. Check out our customer experience survey to learn which rich media and merchandising tactics has delivered for online retailers.

4. Enrich your online ad campaigns. Today, the challenge for marketers is to break through the noise and clutter with engaging and relevant offers and experiences so they can convert their audience into buyers. One way to do this is to increase the relevance of your online ads and promotions with a customized, dynamic experience. From animated banners to video ads, connect with your audience using rich media, and don’t forget to tie your offers to CRM to deliver the relevant content to the right audience at the right time. Personalizing ads with relevant information related to geography or weather can also score big points

5. Use videos to convert. Shoppers love online videos, and their popularity continues to grow. That’s good news for retailers because video’s persuasive powers are indisputable—conversion improvements can be as high as 140% after shoppers view a product video, according to data from our customers. Moreover, video can help to close the gap between the touch-and-feel store experience and the web. So, let online videos tell your product stories: Use them for product reviews, demonstrations and merchandising. Get our eVideo paper to learn more best practices.

6. Invite user generated content. The voice of real customers lends credibility and authenticity to your brand like nothing else. With 64% of social media users somewhat or completely trusting blog posts by people they know, compared to 36% for posts by a brand, the path to building trust in your brand should involve actual customers. So, invite your customers to share their experiences with videos or pictures.

7. Let shoppers have fun creating a one-of-a-kind gift. One of the hottest trends in retail continues to be the growing trend of co-creation or mass customization—letting customers design and customize their consumables using online product configurators. These intuitive visualization tools guide users through each design decision, allowing shoppers to see what they’re getting before the product is made. They create a memorable experience for the buyer and one-of-a-kind gifts for the receiver. To learn more about product configurators, download our paper.

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[1] Invoke Solutions study, as cited by eMarketer, July 29, 2010

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May 13, 2010

Besting the In-Store Experience

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As promised, I am sharing in a blog series some insights culled from our Customer Experience Live Event held last month.

One of our featured customers, Michigan-based Summit Sports, gave us much food for thought, challenging itself with the mission of delivering a "better than an in-store experience." That's a tall order when you consider all the advantages a retail environment offers, where salespeople are standing by and shoppers can try the merchandise on for size. Add to this the fact that Summit is selling highly technical products like skis and snowboards that easily cost north of $1,000, and it becomes an even tougher proposition to convince shoppers to buy online.

Amid what it calls a "notoriously stubborn" conversion rate, Summit last year decided to overhaul its 13 online properties. The metrics it achieved as a result were nothing short of stellar: it grew conversion 11% and nearly doubled its online revenue. Among its revamp initiatives, Summit sharpened its focus on search engine optimization, added breadth to its product narratives, and amped up the site's rich viewing capabilities to enable shoppers to see everything granularly, right down to the stitching. It standardized on the product specs so that when you can compare one product against another, you're actually comparing apples and oranges. For each of its product categories, it offered supplementary content links, including buying guides, sizing guides and videos.

Impressively, Summit captured 1,400 product review videos in just three days to yield more than 3,000 videos that now live on its sites. The videos offer both breadth and depth: You can view a clip about how to mount ski bindings, or drill deeper and watch someone review a specific brand of ski. The best part is, these videos aren't big dollar investments. Summit didn't hire professional video producers to crank out them out; they did it all themselves. And the results are effective--the videos retained a grittiness that lended them authenticity, which for the free-spirited ski and snowboard crowds, imparts more credibility than would a slick and polished video.

I invite you to view an exclusive presentation Summit Sports delivered at the Scene7 customer event. I think you'll come away that given some clever and rich content, online shopping can best the in-store experience.

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October 09, 2009

Video Hotspots "Link" Directly to Sales

Now that eVideo has been shown to come as close as possible to bringing the retail shopping experience online, it's also been made simpler than ever for business users to feature on their sites. In a few clicks of the mouse, anyone (really!) can upload, transcode, edit, manage and stream video content online. And now, video sets and new 'clickable video hotspots' can augment the customer-facing experience--upping the time consumers spend online and consequently spiking conversion.

Okay, but what are clickable video hotspots you ask? Clickable video hotspots take the guesswork out of shopping for consumers by enabling them to "click" on video clips, captions or graphics of interest and link to external references (with more info or a way to buy). For the business user, it's simple to create this cutting-edge effect, with drag-and-drop elements that make it easy to add things like pop-up messaging. Delivering information about your product's availability, inventory level, and color or size options, will captivate your audience and help them reach a purchase decision more quickly--an unstoppable combination!

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Don't just take it from us though, a recent survey of US marketers by PermissionTV ranked interactive video experiences as the top future trend in online video.*

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By now you're likely imagining how interactive video can help bridge the gap between your products and the purchase decision.

*eMarketer, Video Content: A Premium Opportunity, Aug 2009

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September 30, 2009

Combine your dynamic content to drive a richer customer experience (and sell product)

If you want to move merchandise, just showing customers a picture of a product isn't enough. Gone are the days where heavy copy and small imagery moves the needle. Now, displaying a combination of dynamically served product images including alternative views or full 360-degree spin (leveraging interactive zoom and pan) and product video tells the whole story. After all, dynamic zoom and pan enables users to interactively examine a product in detail, 360-degree spin creates an in-store experience, emulating the process of picking up and examining the merchandise, and video completes the story, replacing the in-store clerk, and demonstrating in perfect clarity the product features and benefits--on demand (no waiting for the clerk to finish up with another patron first!). And the ability of video to educate, inform, and show off products in all their glory has proven again and again to complement the product images and details.

The perfect execution leverages an "integrated viewer or player" that serves any type of rich dynamic content (high resolution sets of images including colors, lifestyle and alternative angles for zooming and panning, sets of videos or both). A user must be able to clearly understand which type of content he/she is viewing, as well as have the ability to easily toggle back and forth between each dynamic content type. That is why in the latest Adobe Scene7 release, mixed media viewers have been added as they enable even "non-technical" users to upload, build, publish and serve integrated combinations of videos, images (color and multiple views), SWFs, spin sets and audio.

Titanium Jewelry is a great example of a site that leverages product imagery alongside product video for the ultimate online shopping experience. Customers can see jewelry in as much detail as they might within a retail environment, and the video brings the piece to life - showing every angle of an item of interest.


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Field & Stream is another strong example of a site that integrates product photography stills with product video in a tray viewing format for easy access to expanded product detail. Shoppers can toggle between product shots (hero and lifestyle) and video for an end-to-end overview of the desired merchandise. Field & Stream worked with Circumerro Media, its interactive agency to enable the dynamic media display using Scene7.


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April 23, 2009

Cost-Effectively Integrate Video Into Your Site

The hot topic of the day still appears to be video production and how to cost-effectively integrate video into your site as a way to create site stickiness via improved merchandising. The YouTube craze is likely making us all aware of more and more success stories – nearly everyone is engaged in either viewing or contributing content these days. Remember, seventy-five percent of U.S. Internet users watch video online during a typical month, according to comScore data. And, since YouTube began making its videos available to smart phones over broadband cellular networks — that has only further expanded the potential audience for online video. As I’ve spoken with more and more etailers on the topic - the motivations for producing promotional Web video are clear… and, production questions frequently come up such as: How can a small (or thin budget) e-business produce videos that will resonate with their customers?

First, I think folks need to step back and really re-think their global resource allocation. How much is currently spent on marketing for your site (six figures, seven figures?) – and how effective is that marketing at getting new customers to your site… and… how well does that new traffic convert to sales? Now, what if all your traffic (both newly acquired and repeat) converted at a higher rate due to having video on your site? Is there a case to be made to reallocate some of your less productive marketing spend – into highly effective conversion spent via video? It is worth doing the analysis – perhaps you can break out of the thin-budget mindset by looking more broadly.

In any event, if you are starting to sort out how to fund a video push – I found this article on eCommerce-guide.com interesting – in that it hones in on some key findings and drills down on helpful hints for avoiding common mistakes when producing video designed to boost sales. I agree with many of the tips provided in this article because, despite YouTube paving the way for low budget production, when people see a video associated with a company, there is still the expectation that it should look more like a polished commercial. And, the only way to get around that is if you actually use customer-submitted footage because then it becomes part of the shtick. The last thing you want to do is make your business or what you sell look cheap. But the irony is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to produce a quality production. If you are thinking about going down the ‘in house production path’, which many companies are pursuing, some key points jumped out at me:

• Get a decent camcorder (will cost $800-$1,500)
• Look for a camcorder with 3 Charged-Coupled Devices (CCDs)
• Invest in balloon-like soft lights (making products and people look good) – lighting is key
• Pin a lavaliere microphone on your subject for better audio, or Use a short shotgun
  microphone
• If you’re going pro, look for XLR audio microphones instead of 1/8-inch mini-plug mics
• Get a tripod that's stable yet light and has a fluid head for camera movement
• Consideration: rent the equipment you need if this is a one-off event!

Learn more from the interview conducted with Larry Jordan, president of Larry Jordan & Associates Inc. , a training firm in the Los Angeles area specializing in post-production.

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April 02, 2009

How JCPenney Brings Merchandise to Life Online


JCPenney

It’s a jungle out there for web retailers, and one of the best survival strategies is watching what’s happening at the top of the food chain. That’s why we bring the most creative, successful web retailers to speak at our annual Adobe Scene7 Customer Experience Live event, which we held last week at Adobe offices in San Francisco.

We were proud to host presentations by three retailers – two large and one small – who lead the pack in building brand loyalty and transforming casual visitors into customers. We’ll be putting out case studies on two of them – Philips, the global electronics company, and Cloudveil, a small manufacturer of high-performance outdoor apparel – in the very near future.

For now, I want to share some of the lessons learned from a presentation by Craig Horsley, manager of site operations for JCPenney’s jcp.com. JCPenney has been in business for more than a century, but it thinking like a start-up in bringing exciting new ideas to web retailing, while also operating more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico. Craig is responsible for new technology on JCPenney’s jcp.com site, which draws 520,000 unique daily visitors to view a selection of 31,000 products.

In one of its first tests of Rich Interactive Applications (RIAs), jcp.com offered a “bed in a bag” product in 2006 where customers could click to see how different patterns for sheets, pillow cases and comforters looked in combination. Sales for the product line were 290 percent over plan, Craig said, helping to resolve internal skepticism regarding the value of RIAs.

Jcp.com has since added interactivity to its Window Design Center for blinds and drapes; provided 360-degree spin for products including shoes; added navigation by both product category and brand; and increased product image sizes by 50 percent.

In October 2008, jcp.com made a big push into video merchandising by launching a “Walk the Runway” feature with models showing off JCPenney clothing lines, as well as offering interviews with fashion designers.

“We let the customer shop the way they want to,” said Craig. The new features, he added, have increased “add to bag” and conversion rates. Craig concluded with his six rules for successful online retailing:

1. Listen to the customer.
2. Make shopping simple.
3. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
4. Measure, measure, measure.
5. Continue to evolve and enhance.
6. Content is king.

Success stories – such as those from Philips, Cloudveil and JCPenney – have always been my favorite way of conveying how Scene7 can help build connections between online retailers and customers. I asked our marketing team to get audience feedback, and we heard the same thing.

“It was great to see what can be done with video,” said Matt Pritchard of Smith & Hawken. “I find it exciting that Scene7 is addressing the gap between common, off-brand solutions and an expensive, custom implementation. Translating the dynamic imaging model to video content is very appealing.”

“I was impressed to see how scalable and applicable Scene7 can be for any industry,” added Charles Solla of ZipRealty. “The breadth of customers represented from consumer electronics such as Philips to JCPenney to Cloudveil clearly demonstrates that Scene7 is a service that anyone can use.”

To watch Craig’s presentation email us and we’ll send you the link to the recording.

Adobe Scene7 Customer Experience Live event

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March 20, 2009

Video Production: How low can you go?

Since I last wrote about online video in eCommerce, I have received much feedback from customers on what has been successful for them, inquiries on integrating video on their sites and how to do so cost-effectively. We also just finished our second webinar on online video featuring Sucharita Mulpuru from Forrester Research and had more than 500 people register for this session (and over 1000 people total for the two sessions) to learn more – clearly, the interest in leveraging videos for eCommerce is high. I often hear that the #1 barrier to adding video to a website is that the costs of producing the video itself are prohibitive. During our webinars, Sucharita suggested how to get started quickly with videos.

• Easy, short talking points
    – Brief, impactful video (i.e. 1-2 minutes maximum) is all you need
• Use your own employees or vendors
• Leverage inexpensive technology
    – iMac, digital camcorders
    – Need not be executed in a professional studio
• Costs are primarily editing labor and server capacity for most basic executions

The feedback I have been receiving from our customers who have started using video typically is: 
1) The products on which I post videos significantly outperform other products; and
2) I have figured out a cost-effective way to produce my videos (a la Sucharita's suggestions above) - and it was the right decision - it is less important to strive for 'perfection' in video production and more important to produce as many videos as possible. 

What do you think – does offering online videos on your site require expensive production? Post your comments below and let me know.

Also, if you are interested, here is the link to view the full recording of our eVideo webinar.

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  • ShopTalk is a blog featuring "Quick Tips", trends and more written by experts from the Adobe Scene7 team who live and breathe web, rich media and customer experience. This interactive forum offers insights and best practices on the latest trends we are seeing in the marketplace to help improve your customer experience, ultimately driving conversions and revenues.
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